OK, guys. I have to spit some truth for you. Standing on your sticky mat and contorting your body does not cure your soul (more about that another day). Your yoga teacher did not and cannot heal you. That amazing bliss you feel at the end of your practice with your favorite teacher, it comes from you. You are the site of wonderous transformation, the source of your pranic radiance. Super exciting!!!!!
Don’t get me wrong, I am not nocking my own or anyone elses’ meticulously planned and lovingly executed classes, but even a guru doesn’t create what isn’t already there. I love the concept that a guru is the person who awakens the kundalini energy at the base of the spine. We are usually not able to awaken that energy without this other person unlocking it, but we are not subservient to or dependent on that person either. Even if you haven’t found a guru – which is totally ok! – what I love about this dynamic is a resonance of truth. The truth that we need eachother, that we were not meant to do this alone. It is totally natural to need and want help. The job of a teacher is to facilitate and invite the possability for your discovery. When you go to class, you can deepen your understanding of the pose, learn new things and take part in community, but there is more.
The sanksrit workd, “guru” is complex, but basically means somone who dispells the darkness of ignorance (I won’t lie, I went all the way to Wikipedia for that one). It is also interesting to note that in latin, the root of the word educate means to bring out. Smart people for a long time have known that teachers don’t impose knowledge, they mine for what is already present within the student. That means even when you feel lost and frustrated, the answers are inside you.
Taking some time on your own to center and practice is a great way to create a deeper connection to the guru within. A home practice can take form in many ways, here are a few tips that I have found helpful for me and my students to stay in the flow, even when we can’t meet for class, or just in addition to that work we do together.
Keep it simple. Make a goal to practice daily or a few times a week, but be compassionate and make it reasonable. My personal standard is three sun salutations every single day. Even if I go to class/teach all day long, I still do three sun salutions….almost every day.
Reward yourself lavishly for practicing. This one comes from Ana Forrest. This doesn’t mean buying a pair of shoes or eating a piece of cake, but if you want to go there that is totally fine. Take a moment to do something that feels good for yourself. I like to give myself a mini foot rub. This reward could even just be three deep, soulful breaths.
Be nice to yourself. This means, don’t beat yourself up for not practicing or not making it to class. Seriously. Take a breath. Tomorrow is another day. Also, if you are unsure about the alignment or something starts to feel not so good, talk to a teacher. Especially, if you are working on challenging poses.
Get inspired. Read books, articles, poetry that lift your heart and make you want to practice.
Keep a journal. You don’t have to write in it every day, but on those pages you have an eternal opportunity to make space for yourself. Ground yourself. Find your breath. Speak your truth.
So, when you step on the mat, (in class, on the road or at home) when you show up for yourself, know that you are doing the work. Know that you have the basic tools that you need.